Work / Life: Performance Optimisation Section Leader

A day in the life of…
Kayleigh Messer, Performance Optimisation Section Leader

What are you responsible for in your job? What does that involve, what do you do, who with?
I am responsible for a section within the Vehicle Performance Group. We perform computer simulations to investigate the effects of changing components on the car and analyse track data to provide information and support to various departments such as the trackside engineers, aerodynamicists, design office and production.

Describe a typical day in your job.
No two days are the same but generally I am based in the office, running simulations or looking at data, from the real car on track or brake testing. Like most who are office based, I spend time communicating with colleagues to share information via emails, meetings and reports - it just so happens these are all about racing cars! During race weekends we work closely with the trackside engineers, following the sessions as they happen in real time, looking at live data and sharing any findings. When the races are in faraway places on different timezones the day can be turned on its head – getting up and starting work at the time you would normally go to bed!

How did you get the job? What is your background and why did you take this job?
I studied Motorsport Engineering at university as I really wanted to work in F1. I enjoyed working with data so I knew I wanted to do something with simulation rather than design work. When I graduated, I applied for a job here that required more experience than I had, but just in the hope my CV would be seen. Luckily a few months later I was contacted for an interview for a three month graduate placement and was offered the job - that was in December 2009 and I’m still here over eight years later!

What is your most memorable moment…
Raikkonen winning at Abu Dhabi in 2012 and Melbourne in 2013 – they were very special races.

And the worst part of your job…?
That’s tough to answer: I wouldn’t have been here so long if there was something about my job I didn’t like! The only downside I can think of is that the factory is quite remote in the countryside so it makes it difficult to get to work when it snows.

The best part of your job then…
The fast pace of development is very exciting and I love seeing everyone’s hard work on the TV on a Sunday afternoon!

What do you do after work? How do you unwind?
I enjoy spending time with friends, and have recently joined a book club with some neighbours – we chat about the book then get onto putting the world to rights, along with a glass of wine – it’s a great way to spend an evening! I also regularly travel up to Yorkshire to see family which is always nice.

What do you do before going to sleep?
I’m trying to read books rather than scrolling through social media on my phone – although I fall asleep quite quickly so sometimes I don’t even get through a page before nodding off.

Plan B… If you weren’t doing your job, what would you have done instead? Something with numbers – maybe an accountant or something like that.